Tim Kennedy arrived in North Dakota in 1997. A new assistant professor of architecture and landscape architecture at NDSU, he decided to familiarize himself with the area. He wanted to see his students' hometowns. "The landscape tells the story of the people and the people tell the story of the landscape," Kennedy said. "I was going out there to see these small towns and find out what they could tell me about the landscape."
It's not surprising the historic theaters drew Kennedy's attention. "The showiest pieces on Main Street are these movie theaters," he said. And they come with a history. Once the hub of social activity, the local movie theater was the prime spot to be on a Saturday night. In many towns, that hasn't changed.
Kennedy now has a Great Plains Little Theater Project, complete with a Web site, www.ndsu.edu/ndsu/gplt, that includes photographs and basic facts about 29 small town theaters. He's using the site to collect and post movie-going memories from current and past patrons. Eventually the project may become a book. Funding for his work comes from an in-house grant and a fellowship from the North Dakota Humanities Council.